LabelExpo 2017 - 3D printing for machine builders
Connecting for new possibilities
Leapfrog has attended the LabelExpo 2017 this year together with AV Flexologic and Tech Sleeves. Both these companies had everything to do with labels which made them a perfect fit for the LabelExpo 2017 in Brussels. Leapfrog however has been able to made new connection as well.
Innovate with 3D printing
The LabelExpo is partly crowded with exhibitors who print all different kinds of labels, and companies whom are excellent at making complex machines to print all these different kinds of labels. These machine builders have been doing this decades and are at the top of their game. But this also means that their method of working can be conservative.
Low volume and unique parts
Developing complex machines is what the Bolt Pro was bred for. As you might know, 3D printing is not for mass production, but excels at low volumes. And the characteristics of additive manufacturing give way for a large freedom in vorm.
How to use 3D printing
Being Leapfrog 3D Printers, we were the only one there with a 3D printer. This was for most a novelty, but as soon as you were able to talk to these people and connect with their product process, 3D printing could be of use for them. Most production process still use expensive techniques for creating prototypes. And a lot of parts are machines out of steel, were plastic would suffice as well. Locating the sweet spot between heavy duty and unique parts is the place for the Bolt Pro to product functional parts.
3D printing functional parts
The thought of a 3D printing plastic parts can still come as a shock for most machine builders. But the materials are still developing in a rapid pace. And the fact that the improved string of PLA, Engineering PLA, provides for stronger printed parts than ABS, opens up the use. And of course applying Nylon, PolyPropylene and PolyCarbonate on smaller parts, really can be a game changer for a more affordable solution.
Can 3D printing replace regular production methods?
3D printing has a lot of benefits over the regular and conventional production methods. One of the bigger features are the low costs and low impact for the environment. There is almost no excess of material left over and the printed part needs little to no tooling afterwards before use. We do believe however that 3D printing is not able to replace current production techniques. But what we do strongly believe is that is has it's own unique place within the production chain. This place still has to find a foothold and grown from there. But when it is there, it can increase lead-times due to faster prototyping, decrease costs by creating cheaper parts and replace multiple parts by smart design with more freedom in form.